Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 289–310 | Cite as

Shared decision-making and patient autonomy



In patient-centred care, shared decision-making is advocated as the preferred form of medical decision-making. Shared decision-making is supported with reference to patient autonomy without abandoning the patient or giving up the possibility of influencing how the patient is benefited. It is, however, not transparent how shared decision-making is related to autonomy and, in effect, what support autonomy can give shared decision-making. In the article, different forms of shared decision-making are analysed in relation to five different aspects of autonomy: (1) self-realisation; (2) preference satisfaction; (3) self-direction; (4) binary autonomy of the person; (5) gradual autonomy of the person. It is argued that both individually and jointly these aspects will support the models called shared rational deliberative patient choice and joint decision as the preferred versions from an autonomy perspective. Acknowledging that both of these models may fail, the professionally driven best interest compromise model is held out as a satisfactory second-best choice.


Shared decision-making Patient autonomy Patient choice Paternalism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of ScienceGothenburg UniversityGothenburgSweden
  2. 2.School of Health SciencesUniversity College of BoråsBoråsSweden

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